Government Rocked by Historic Mobilizations
Statement by Sindicato de Estudiantes (Students Union), Spain
Just days after the last student general strike that was called by the Sindicato de Estudiantes against the “reválidas franquistas” (college entrance exams), we have been proven correct in what we always said: struggle works.
These exams were first introduced under General Franco’s dictatorship and were used as a sort of filter to stop working-class young people from reaching university.
The right-wing government wanted to impose this filter again, which could have resulted in hundreds of thousands of fourteen- to sixteen-year-old young people being prematurely expelled from school, with no academic qualifications. This is in a society with mass youth unemployment which, in 2013, reached 56% and has now declined to only 43%!
Following a meeting between the Ministry of Education and the representatives of the Autonomous Communities, the reválidas – proposed by Wert, the former education minister – have been abandoned.
The exams, which were to be held at the end of the final year of secondary school as well as primary school, will no longer be obligatory and will have no academic bearing. The tests will merely be indicative. In other words, they will only be introduced in some schools and as indicative tests.
This agreement means we have succeeded in defeating the reválidas franquistas and, in so doing, have prevented hundreds of thousands of youth from being thrown out of the classroom.
This victory is the fruit of struggle conducted by millions of students over the last few years and is due in particular to the historic mass strikes of October 24 and November 25 called by the Sindicato de Estudiantes.
These strikes emptied the classrooms and filled the streets in protest against the unjust and reactionary exams. The victory was also achieved by the battle fought by parents and teachers alongside us – although some might be tempted to claim victory themselves, such as those from PSOE (the social democratic party), who supported the formation of the new right-wing People’s Party (PP) government of Mariano Rajoy.
In reality, the only reason the PP government gave in on this issue of strategic importance to them was due to the mobilisations and struggles on the streets.
This is the first victory. Now the battle continues, with the aim of finishing off the neo-liberal LOMCE (education reform) and ensuring that not one comma of this Francoist counter-reform remains.
We told the government and their cronies – Cuidadnos (right-wing Citizens party) and leaders of the PSOE – that we are aware of the significance of this victory. We will not allow them to continue down the road of cuts and attacks on state education with their latest manoeuvres in the form of the “education pact.”
We told them that they would not cheat us and that there would be no pact should they refuse to recognize and implement the demands of those millions who have tirelessly struggled as part of the Marea Verde, (the “Green Wave,” a campaign involving education workers against cuts).
Their demands are the return of 7,000 million euro stolen from the state education budget, the re-hiring of 32,000 sacked teachers, the repeal of the LOMCE and the 3+2 exams, and no more state funds to support religious and private education.
Furthermore, if the government decides to continue down the road that they have taken in the last few years, they should be aware: We will again take to the streets.